The nicest thing about writers is that we come from all walks of life and it's really of no consequence what we do in our day job. When I was in Caerleon, Ray Allen (the writer of Some Mothers Do 'ave 'Em) said he was cleaning toilets at the BBC when he finally cracked it and was signed up for the series. Who cares? It's a bit like singing - take Susan Boyle, for example, or in my home town, Faryl Smith. Very ordinary people with extraordinary talent.
In the garden that represents my life there are a few lush, fertile patches which yield the best pickings for ideas. By far the richest one is meetings, especially the 15 minutes or so beforehand when people are arriving and chatting over coffee. Another good idea generator is the body language, or the things people don't say, rather than what they do say. I'll give you a little example from this week's crop of meetings (names changed to protect the innocent). This was just before the start of the meeting at the coffee machine.
'How did it go, Wilfred?'
'I tell you, mate, it was like playing snakes and bloody ladders. That's the worst thing about Pat, she has an answer for everything. It's so frustrating at times.'
I didn't have a clue what the two people were talking about, but I didn't need to, because the analogy of a game of snakes and ladders with having a difficult conversation was all I needed. That was the first idea that night. Another example was when one of the people at a daytime meeting kept glancing up at the clock, and then there was the distinct buzz of a vibrating mobile phone in her pocket, which she then took out and scrolled down a lengthy text message. While she was reading it she was obviously completely distracted from the meeting because someone mentioned something she should have answered, and didn't. All eyes were on her, but she was reading her text, completely oblivious. Hmmmm ... interesting, or what?
I also like the school playground in the mornings, watching the yummy mummies and the slummy mummies and wondering why one bloke in particular ALWAYS parks his car just a couple of feet over the zig zags near the zebra crossing, even when there's plenty of room for him to park outside the forbidden zone. That says a lot about him, don't you think? And also revs up a writer's imagination into overdrive.
So, if I have rich pickings, idea-wise, in my life, then other Novel Racers must too.
What situations in your life are the best idea generators?